Typically associated with services for seniors, the Meals on Wheels program has branched out now that there’s a larger number of people both stuck in their homes and experiencing financial difficulties in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Even seniors who are usually able to get out for their own groceries are remaining at home now, as they’re part of the age group most vulnerable to the virus. For them, and for those who can’t afford groceries, Meals on Wheels can help, says Community Care Concepts (CCC), which runs the program offering hot and frozen entrees in Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot townships.
In its expanded effort, CCC has been working with the Ontario Community Support Association to access funding from the province.
“We had originally run our hot meals Monday through Friday across the three townships, and we have frozen entrees that are available to our clients as well. Given the time and day we are in at this point, because we are in the pandemic, we are trying to broaden,” said manager of community programs Karla Rabidoux of the change.
Part of the broadening is offering extended help to those discharged from hospitals, for instance.
“We would send a couple of starter meals for people that have been in hospital, and we are waiting to get them groceries and services that are a little tough to access right now –they at least have those meals,” she said.
CCC has seen much interest in the Meals on Wheels services. The agency has redeployed staff from community services that are no longer running to COVID-related duties – CCC does well-being checks with all their client, for example.
Expansion to the Meals on Wheels program has occurred in a couple of different ways, explains executive director Cathy Harrington.
“We have people coming on to the program, we are also seeing some of the people accessing Meals on Wheels in the past are now requesting more frequent [deliveries].”
Those interested in the service can reach CCC at 519-664-1900 (519-662-9526 in Wilmot) or toll free at 1-855-664-1900, and could be added to hot-meal runs within 48 hours.
The organization also has volunteers delivering hot meals that will provide meals quickly to clients.
“We never want finance and accessibility to be a barrier for anybody. We are working with clients on a unique individual basis to say ‘what do you need?’ and try and stretch ourselves out to get it as much as possible,” said Rabidoux.
“We believe every door should be an open door for people to access us from across our three townships.”